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Ann Sheets
Former President/CEO Camp Fire First Texas

Camp Fire programs use Thrive{ology} as a framework, which includes a segment called “Reflections” at the end of a program or task, as a review of what was learned, what went well or not so well, and the lessons learned.

Today, I thought it appropriate to do a little reflecting myself, as I left the Camp Fire Resource Center for the last time as the President/CEO, the end of a 43-year experience working for Camp Fire First Texas.

My career with Camp Fire has lasted all of my adult life, beginning here as the El Tesoro camp director in 1977. In between directing camp and serving as the CEO, I had a chance to do a lot of different things – coordinate teen programs, serve as the newsletter editor, manage the implementation of our first computers (remember “green screens”?), oversee many different construction projects, lead a few anniversary celebrations, and work as the council’s CFO. You see, Camp Fire provides many growth experiences for staff, enabling employees to learn new skills and advance in the organization. I could never have imagined getting to do so many different things, especially working for the same employer!

Along the way, I got to meet some really great people working with volunteers and staff alike. In many cases, I even got to work with two – and sometimes three – generations in a family. These relationships have been wonderful – seeing young people grow into caring, confident adults; learning how to interact with people of all ages and varying opinions; and all the while gaining knowledge from others who were giving of their time to an organization we all cared about. We shared some good times, like implementing new programs, developing a facility for youth and investing in the finest camp ever. We also shared some difficult times, being with volunteers and staff in times of personal challenges and grief. Camp Fire became a large, extended family with colleagues locally, across the country, even on the other side of the world (like our grief camp friends in Japan). This extended family was with me for all 43 years, as my own family developed and changed through marriage, the birth of my children, and just recently the glorious addition of a new grandson. I am indeed fortunate to have been a part of such a terrific support system.

Over the last week, I’ve been able to spend some time with our new President/CEO, Lauren Richard, who I believe will take the best of First Texas and help us become even better. I realized, as we were reviewing pages and pages of notes and documents about big things and little things that are important to the oversight needed by the CEO, that I had been given a tremendous gift of growing into the CEO job over time, having worked side-by-side with my predecessor, Zem Neill, for thirty-seven years. Zem was not just an employer, she was a mentor and is still a great friend – because of Camp Fire.

While my journey in Camp Fire started as a Blue Bird and has been a major part of my life for the last 43 years on the staff here at First Texas, it’s not over. It’s just moving into a different phase that is a little less intense! To all of the volunteers, participants, and fellow staff, thank you for giving me a lifetime of memories, for your confidence as we addressed challenges, but most of all, for the opportunity to positively influence the lives of thousands of youth together.

I look forward to seeing Camp Fire grow under Lauren’s able leadership and to knowing that First Texas is continuing to make a tremendous difference! Best wishes to all.


Ann Sheets signature

Ann Sheets

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